Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks said Monday that a curfew would go into effect for juveniles younger than 17, beginning Friday, to battle crime after one of the deadliest months in decades for the jurisdiction just outside D.C.
The curfew — which is backed by civil penalties, including fines — will be in effect for 30 days between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:59 p.m. and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Alsobrooks (D), flanked by the county’s police chief and council chair, also lashed out at the county’s prosecutor, courts and families for what she said was a systemic failure to hold young people responsible for their dangerous, risky and sometimes criminal behavior. State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy quickly rejected the criticisms of her office in a separate news conference later in the day.
Nearly two-thirds of the juveniles arrested by police for carjacking this year have prior criminal records, and half were 15 years old or younger, Alsobrooks said. She did not provide further details on those statistics, including whether those juveniles had been adjudicated or their charges dropped.
“These kids don’t just need a hug; they also need to be held accountable,” Alsobrooks told reporters. “I know this isn’t the popular thing to say, but the truth of the matter is, it’s a fair question: Where are their parents? Where are the aunties? Where are the uncles and other family members who are responsible for them?”
Alsobrooks defended police, saying arrests have been made. “The problem is what happens after the arrest or, in our case, what hasn’t happened or doesn’t happen,” she said.
Police Chief Malik Aziz echoed her frustration, saying officers have become caught up in a game of “catch and release” with people who are taken in on criminal charges but not kept in jail.
Aziz, responding to a question, acknowledged broad efforts to restructure policing and achieve more equitable justice in the nation since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis more than two years ago, but he also suggested that the pendulum has swung too far with what he characterized as lenient treatment of certain criminal offenses.
“Only so long can you have police going through a system where they continually arrest and bring people back around in a circle to release to further victimize residents of our county,” Aziz said.
But within hours the county’s top prosecutor fired back. Braveboy, in a teleconference with reporters, defended her office’s record on seeking and obtaining convictions, saying prosecutors have obtained 294 indictments for carjackings since 2019.
“We know carjackings are an issue,” Braveboy said. “And I can tell you, when we look at the number of young people committing carjackings, it is outrageous. It is concerning. It is heartbreaking.”
This year alone, her office has charged 58 youths, and of those who have been adjudicated, 10 have been sent to juvenile facilities. Twenty-three have been placed on probation, and about an equal number are pending, she said.
“So we absolutely hold people accountable for serious crimes,” Braveboy said. “We even hold people accountable for what they consider misdemeanor offenses because we understand that everyone has to face consequences when they break the law.”
But she also said prosecutors have to ensure that police have filed charges based on sufficient evidence that can be shown beyond a reasonable doubt. Then, she said, it was up to judges and juries.
“And sometimes we disagree,” she said. “We are a part of the justice system. We make recommendations, but we are not the final say.”
Braveboy went after Alsobrooks, her predecessor as state’s attorney, for grandstanding and failing to collaborate with other officials to fight crime.
“It’s not an easy job,” she said. “Leadership is not about pointing fingers. It’s not about saying what I’m doing right and what everyone else is doing wrong. Leadership is about figuring out how we work with everyone in the system to make it better.”
The news conferences transformed a sleepy Labor Day holiday into one filled with recriminations, dueling statistics and mutual finger-pointing among Prince George’s County’s leadership over who was at fault for a troubling spike in violent crime. Though homicides have declined since last year, the number of killings remains well above pre-pandemic levels.
The curfew, which starts Friday at midnight, comes after gun violence took the lives of at least three people in the county over Labor Day weekend. Among the victims was a 15-year-old D.C. resident. A 1-year-old was also shot, but the child was listed in stable condition.
The county has recorded 80 homicides so far this year, including 24 in August alone, compared with 84 killings a year earlier, Prince George’s County police spokeswoman Christina Cotterman said. The county has also recorded 355 carjackings through July.
Katie Mettler contributed to this report.
This article originally said the curfew applies to juveniles 17 and under. It has been corrected.